The Champions League is a trophy synonymous with the career of Jose Mourinho. His winning it with unfancied Porto thrust him into the mainstream consciousness in 2004 and a couple of epic semi-finals with Chelsea against Liverpool preceded his lifting of the trophy with Internazionale in 2010 and a mixed spell while at Real Madrid.
It is now Europe’s secondary competition, the Europa League, that the Portuguese will have to reacquaint himself with if and when he is unveiled at Manchester United.
The Old Trafford side finished the last Premier League campaign in fifth place, earning them a spot in the group stages of the Europa League for the 2016/17 season.
Louis van Gaal’s former charges missed out on a top-four, and subsequent Champions League spot, to neighbours Manchester City on goal difference, and will now take part in the Europa League for the third time in six years.
Next term will as such be the first managerial season Mourinho has spent outside the Champions League in 13 years, leaving the outspoken one to ready himself for only his third campaign in the Uefa Cup/Europa League.
2000/01 (with Benfica)
P1 W0 D1 L0 F2 A2
Mourinho’s first European match as manager came in his first week at Benfica in September 2000, after he replaced Jupp Heynckes. The 37-year-old was unable to prevent an aggregate defeat to Halmstad in the first round of the Uefa Cup, the Portuguese side having already been beaten 2-1 in the away first leg in the last days of Heynckes’ reign. Former Nottingham Forest forward Pierre van Hooijdonk and Miguel Monteiro scored in a 2-2 draw at the Stadium of Light but Benfica went out 4-3 on aggregate.
2002/03 (with Porto)
P13 W8 D2 L3 F29 A10
His only other season in the competition came from the start of the 2002/03 campaign, with Porto. A first-round aggregate victory over Polonia Warszawa preceded wins over Austria Wien, Lens, Denizlispor, Panathinaikos and, in the semi-finals, Lazio. The final pitted Mourinho against Martin O’Neill’s Celtic in Seville – two goals from Derlei either side of a Dmitri Alenichev strike giving Mourinho a 3-2 extra-time success and his first European title. He followed that with the Champions League 12 months later and the Special One was born.
United enter next season’s competition at the group stage, which begins on Thursday 15 September and runs through till 8 December. The draw takes place in Monaco on 26 August.
Mourinho has been heavily linked with the United positionsince the weekend, with van Gaal sacked by the Old Trafford side on Monday. That was despite the Dutchman leaving the club to a first major trophy in three years, beating Crystal Palace 2-1 on Saturday to secure a first FA Cup for the club in 12 years.
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